Following the media eruption over Lady Gaga's apparent weight gain, the pop star decided to turn the negative attention into something positive for not only her, but for her Little Monsters when she launched her Body Revolution 2013.
Gaga started the initiative by posting four revealing photos of herself, declaring her personal struggle with anorexia and bulimia and encouraging fans to embrace their society-deemed flaws and stand against discrimination. MTV News met up with some fans featured in the campaign to see how Gaga's message affected them.
"It's really important because there are a lot of impressionable kids that look up to her," Little Monster subscriber and Body Revolution supporter Amy Christoforou said. "And for somebody to make such a name for herself and be bullied when she was younger and stand up and be where she is right now it's awesome, it's absolutely awesome."
Since its launch, thousands of fans have flooded the website to share their stories and to spread Gaga's message to "inspire bravery. and BREED some m$therf---ing COMPASSION." One fan, Caroline Rothstein, who is a spoken word poet and has been an eating disorder recovery advocate for 12 years, posted a video titled "Fat" that was so moving even Lady Gaga tweeted it, calling her an "inspiring woman."
"After hearing about Lady Gaga announcing this Body Revolution and sharing her own eating disorder story I thought: 'You know, let me join with them.' So this is an incredible opportunity to connect with more people," Rothstein said about sharing her video, created less than a year ago. "I figured, a few fans would maybe see it and connect. I had no idea that the next day Lady Gaga would pick it from the thousands of posts and share it."
Another Little Monster, Emily Rose, whose picture was tweeted by Mother Monster, also suffered with bulimia and anorexia, and like Lady Gaga, she wanted to be able to share her story in order to help and inspire others.
"When I saw Gaga had launched this initiative, I was overjoyed. There are so many women today who are insecure about their appearance and they need someone as iconic and inspirational as Gaga to tell them that weight is not a number one priority in life," Rose said. "I decided to share my story on Body Revolution because I want to let other girls know that being thin doesn't make you happy.
"Ever since I developed anorexia and bulimia three years ago, I have been royally miserable for the duration of that time," she continued. "But ever since I realized that there are many other things in life besides being obsessed with weight, it has become easier for me to accept myself. I want other girls to be able to realize this too."
Fans have also become to recognize Body Revolution as a comfortable environment where they can express their insecurities knowing they will not be judged, but embraced.
"I just got a lot of comments saying don't worry everything's fine, you're beautiful, it doesn't matter what you look like. It was really great," said Christoforou, who, since the age of 13, has suffered from scoliosis and has had multiple back surgeries, leaving her with a large scar on her back. After the launch of Body Revolution, she posted the photos of her scar and several X-Ray shots for the first time.
Rose also felt the outpouring of support from her fellow Little Monsters, "I have never had so much support, encouragement and compassion from so many people. They have made me feel so valued and now I know my story is out there. I hope that I can inspire other Monsters with body insecurities to accept themselves as I have."
These fans also agree that the Body Revolution campaign couldn't come at a better time, since so many people are looking for an outlet to share their insecurities, but to also create positive connections with people that are in similar situations.
"I will be really honest. I joined Little Monsters on Tuesday night to post, so I really did not get how massive and incredible her fan base was until this week," Rothstein said. "So I think this just opens up more dialogue. The more conversation we can have with ourselves and with each other the closer we get to freeing ourselves from shame, and the shame is what causes addiction and self-harm and eating disorders and discrimination in the first place, so I think this does amazing things for her fans and I hope it can reach beyond that."
For more on body-image issues, visit the MTV Act Blog.